Oh the weather outside is frightful...

But the soup in here's delightful!  Ok, sorry for getting that stuck in your head.  But the weather here is just gross: cold, windy, rainy, icy- none of the things I enjoy {like: tropical, beachy, pooly...}.  Soup just sounds cozy and warm right now.  And this soup is craazy easy.

Easy like 4 ingredients.  Easy like how it would have been to stay in bed this morning instead of getting up and de-icing my car and driving to work.  Easy like a marathon of Scandal from a prone position on the couch.  Oooh, easy like laying by a pool!  Ok right, it's still winter {why does everything keep coming back to the pool?} And yes, come summer, I'll be telling you all every 10 seconds how gross and hot I feel.  I'm just awesome and easily pleased that way.

This is that soup for the time when you want to put things in the oven, kick back with a glass of wine, and have the whole thing just happen in front of you.  Also, I'm sure you could sneak in some other veggies here, like spinach or beans or something.  I mean, hey, the whole thing gets blended together!  And these flavors are the perfect canvas: they have their own depth and satisfying flavor, but could easily accomodate something else.  Ooh, you could add bacon!  {In crumbles at the end though, not to be blended. ew, liquid bacon.}

Mmm, give it a try, eh?  And serve with good bread, oh please serve with good bread.

Roasted Onion & Garlic Tomato Soup
Serves 5-6

1 35oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes
4 small (or 2-3 large) onions
2 heads of garlic
2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce + 2 tablespoons sauce
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 and peel and trim the onions, slicing them in half.  Place on a parchment (or foil) lined baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes, until they are soft and browning.  Slice the tops off of the garlic heads and wrap them in foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  After the onions and garlic are roasted, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the head and place into a large pot with the onions and the can of tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Add in the chipotle peppers (be careful, they can get spicy quickly) and adobo sauce.  Then using an immersion blender (or other blender) puree the mixture.  (If using a regular blender, do it in batches and be careful!)

Ooh, we'll get to these.

But first, a story.  A story of a Southern girl, some black ice, and a head trauma.  See, I realize that it was pretty quiet on the blog front the latter half of last week, and I feel I must explain.  Wednesday morning, my good friend, Tal, and I were leaving the library on campus.  Chatting and walking, we turned onto the sidewalk to our class building and WHOOSH {POW! KAZAM!} both of us completely flew up in the air and landed in heaps on the ground {thank you giant ice patch}.  Poor Tal had just gotten a full cup of coffee and now he was bathing in it.  I managed to hit both my left hip and right knee {still can't picture how}.  Embarrassed and confused, we jumped up to see about 20 undergrads staring at us open-mouthed.  We hobbled off to class, only to be sent by our professor to Student Health to get checked out.  And good thing we did: I apparently had jostled my brain enough to get a concussion.  So here I am, five full days later and finally allowed to look at a computer and read.  Obviously, the first thing I read was my latest Bon Appetit, and I just had to make these sweet potato fries.

It was a personal challenge.  Both to make food with my shaken brain, and because I have roasted sweet potatoes every way I can think of, and they never really get that french fry essence {which I would like all of my food to have, just to clear that up}.

Plus, these get dipped in a lime sour cream sauce.  It was supposed to be lime mayo, but someone in this house has a distinct mayo aversion.  {ahem, not me, I am pro-fat. especially on bread with tomatoes}  Still a fantastical sauce.  And feel free to use mayo for yourself. {Then invite me over pleaseandthankyou}

Why don't I just fry the sweet potatoes?  Good question.  Because I am afraid of frying things in my own home.  Not afraid of the process {although, let's face it, I got a concussion just from walking, let's not put me and boiling hot oil near each other any time soon}, more afraid of the pandora's box that would most assuredly open. But these fries {almost} eliminate that need: that are completely tasty and very easy!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Lime Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
Serves 2-4 as a side dish

3 medium size potatoes
2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup sour cream (or mayo)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon lime zest

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and slice longways into wedges, about 8-10 wedges per potato. Toss in oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet and into the oven for 25-35 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and getting just a bit crispy. Meanwhile, mix sour cream with lime juice and zest. Serve hot!

And watch out for that ice, man.

Sometimes you just need a dish that's a little fancy.

Before I got married, my mother and grandmother took me to a Viking cooking class.  We had a fabulous time learning new ways to cook things {and of course critiquing the instructor behind her back.}  For dessert we made fruit tarts, which were fabulous, and afterwards my grandmother gave me a set of small tart pans!  Every time I open the pantry, those tart pans look up at me, begging to be used.  And I finally had inspiration for a non-dessert tart.  Because heck, who doesn't love individually sized foods? {Insert how awesome the mac & cheese cupcakes were because of their handheld-ness} 

Say hello to my inspiration: roasted garlic.  Ohmygosh y'all, if you haven't roasted garlic and smothered it on anything {bread, pasta, your hand...} you are missing out.  Roasting takes that acidic bite out of the garlic and replaces it with a depth and creaminess.  Plus, it alleviates the intense whoa-girl garlic breath that comes from eating fresh garlic {which I do all.the.time. Mr. S&S is too lucky}.

While that garlic {why do I want to say gar-leek? zoolander?} was roasting, I rolled out some pie crust {store-bought. I am afraid/see no need to make my own} and used the tart pan to cut out circles of crust.  Too cute.

Then I added in some roasted corn {that began life as frozen corn.  or at least it's life in this house}, tomatoes, basil, and goat cheese.  Because I've decided that goat cheese should be added to EVERYTHING.  Five out of the last six meals I've eaten have included goat cheese.  Including breakfast.  I might have a problem.  And then I baked the tarts.  And then became frustrated that I had rolled out the cute cross-dough too thick, so I turned it on broil.  And forgot about them for 90 seconds. Too long, broil wins.  This shall explain the over-brownedness of the cross pieces.  Oops.

Don't be like me.  Roll out your cross dough thinly.  And never let broil have it's way with your foods.

Roasted Garlic, Corn & Tomato Tarts
Make 4 small tarts

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 head of garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons goat cheese
1 pie crust

Preheat the oven to 375, slice the top off of your head of garlic, and wrap it in aluminum foil.  Pop it in the oven for 25 minutes.  Meanwhile, roll out your pie dough and cut out four circles to fit small tart pans {or other small baking dishes- not everyone's Grandma is as cool as mine}.  Add the basil, olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese to the halved tomatoes and mix.  Then spread the corn out on a baking sheet and set it under the broiler for about 10 minutes, or until corn begins to brown {the garlic is happy sitting under broil too.}  Once the garlic and corn are finished, add the corn to the tomato mixture, pull the garlic cloves from the head, chop a bit, and add them to the mixture as well.  Divide the mixture evenly into your four pans, then top with the remaining goat cheese.  Add extra pieces of dough on top if you're feeling exciting.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is slightly brown.

Hot crossed tarts.  Delicious and nutritious!

I've got something for you today that will change your... rice bowls.

This is a classic weeknight dinner: use the ingredients you have on hand and smother them in a fantastic Asian-inspired sauce to the delight of everyone around you.  All in about 30 minutes!  Ever since I started making this sauce, I could put it over cardboard and Mr. S&S would say, "Oooh, is that the good sauce??"  {To which I sassily respond, "what do you mean the good sauce?  Do I feed you horrible sauces?"  I'm just a peach to live with.}

 But salmon and brussels sprouts are usually a bigger win than cardboard.  So this recipe is cardboard-free.  Instead, it's full of nutrition that would make your mama smile!  Brown rice {and all its superiority over white rice}, omega-full salmon {which I can pan-roast! in the cast iron skillet! am I a broken record yet?}, green vegetables {you can use brussels, broccoli, asparagus, whatever is convenient!}, and seaweed strips {real thing, if you can find them!}.

It's just so satisfying when nutritious food actually tastes good!  Which it will, when doused in the good sauce.

Salmon Rice Bowls with Asian Sauce
Makes two rice bowls

3/4 pound salmon
1 pound brussels sprouts
1 cup brown rice (uncooked), cooked according to package instructions
1 package dried seaweed (if you can find it), sliced into long pieces

For the sauce (adapted by White On Rice Couple)
1/4 cup white wine or sake
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

Preheat the oven to 400.  Slice the bottoms off the brussels sprouts (or other green veggies) and slice them into bite sized pieces.  Spread on a baking sheet with a little olive oil and roast for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and place salmon skin side down into pan.  Cook for 5 minutes, then place in the oven for an additional 5-6 minutes.

Put all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and let simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.  The longer it simmers, the thicker it will be, so stir regularly to check.  Take off heat when the sauce is thicker than water, but not too syrupy.

Place rice in a bowl, then brussels, then the salmon, pour sauce over top, then add seaweed.

I have a big confession.

Last night I ate a giant, beautiful, totally-worth-it cupcake {yeah still doing that no-sugar thing, oops}.  It was magnificent.  And then I went crazy with sugar.  As in, turned on my hip hop playlist and pulled out all my most ridiculous-awesome dance moves.  For about 20 minutes.  And then I laid down on the floor and wanted to barf.  Big time.  It was a very kindergartener response to sugar.  But tasty and wonderful too.

So now I'm back to the straight and narrow, which thankfully doesn't mean the flavorless and sad, because I have recipes like this one in my life!  It's deceptively simple and so quick to throw together, but creamy, flavorful, and full of protein!  I pretty much always have a can of black beans on hand {It just makes me feel more secure to have cans of things in the pantry. Weird, yes, like we could survive a natural disaster with all our cans}, so this appetizer came together very quickly thanks to a little whirl in the food processor.

This recipe is from An Edible Perspective, and while I normally tweak recipes to make them more congruent with my own crazy taste buds, I pretty much left this one alone.  Mostly because I have tried about 5,482 times to make hummus at home in my food processor, and it always comes out weird.  It tastes fine, but the consistency is never right- either too runny or too textured.  So I'm pretty wary of bean dips in the food processor.  But this black bean dip had an excellent consistency.  It's especially agreeable with some {or a whole bag of multigrain scoops} tortilla chips.  {I would probably eat sand if it was fed to me on a tortilla chip}

So do your sugar-infused body some good, and feed it this lovely, protein-y dip.

Simple Black Bean Dip
Makes about 1 1/4 cup, adapted from An Edible Perspective

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice (or lemon)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Dash of smoked paprika, to top

Whirl the garlic clove around the food processor until it's in smithereens {aka all chopped up}.  Then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until all combined and smooth.  Add more water or lime juice if you want a thinner consistency.  Serve with a dash of smoked paprika and a squirt of lime.     

And happy weekending!

So we all know what men want for Valentine's Day:

Pink bubbly drinks!  That's what you were thinking right?  Not: to be completely left alone and not have to live up to the hype of a holiday perpetuated by over-excited women?  I shall be going with answer A on this one.

However, I really like Valentine's Day!  Any day in which you can openly eat whole boxes of chocolate, wear obnoxious amounts of pink, and ponder on the love in your life is fine by me.  Even in my single days, it was an excuse to dress up with girlfriends and treat ourselves to something!  My best friend in college and I exchanged the worst, cheesiest, most cringe-worthy Valentine's cards we could find over intimate sushi every year of college.  And it was fantastic.

In case you're looking for a last minute girl's night drink {or couple's, if your man will drink pink}, give this one a shot.  It uses the lovely blood orange {which is not only in season, but on sale a lot of places!} and agave syrup!  And of course lime.  Because I'm pretty sure I don't make drinks without lime.  There are two versions, as well: the non-alcoholic, bubbly kind and the grown-up version.  Take your pic, they're both fabulous.

And happy Valentine's day!  I'm very much looking forward to a night in with my Valentine {and some crazy good take out Thai food}.

Sparkling Blood Orange Drink
Makes one drink, but is easily multiplied

Juice of two blood oranges, about 1/4 cup/ 2 oz
1/8 cup/ 2 tablespoons/ 1 oz lime juice
3 tablespoons/ 1.5 oz agave nectar
1 cup sparkling water

Mix together the juices and agave and stir until the agave is completely combined with the juices.  Then pour the sparkling water into a glass and the juices into the water.  Voila!

Blood Orange Cocktail
Makes one drink

2 oz blood orange juice
1 oz lime juice
1.5 oz agave nectar (or more depending on your sweet tooth)
1 oz triple sec
1.5 oz vodka
Sparkling water, optional

Pour the blood orange juice, lime juice, agave, triple sec, and vodka into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake about 30 seconds.  Then pour into a glass over ice.  Add sparkling water for some fizz, if you like!

Here's hoping your Valentine's is pink and bubbly!

In my dreams {probably other people's nightmares}, there are two of me.  The first me goes to work, works her heart out with kiddos, and then comes home and collapses {um, hey current life}. Meanwhile the second me is at home, cooking, cleaning, and exercising {basically living the life that pinterest insists I have}.  When me one gets home, me two takes over, all nurturing-like, and makes her a lovely, wholesome snack and then a beautiful dinner.  Probably something like this:

Also in this dream, I have Carrie Underwood's legs {and voice}.  I'm also best friends with her.

But when reality strikes and I realize that I'm just the one me, I breathe a little sigh {that apparently has penetrated Moose's subconscious, because he's starting to sigh just like me.  whoa, weird}, foist my tired little self off the couch and make something awesome.  Because it's just not worth it to eat blah food.  And doesn't the sight of this cheer you up a little?

Eventually, I get carried away in grilling avocados {heck yes, it's a thing!} and the intoxicatingly simple aroma of garlic sauteed in olive oil.  Making flavorful, comforting food is my therapy.

And in case I get invited to an impromptu get together with friends, I lay it all out as an appetizer like this:

But with a side salad and nice glass of wine, me two promises that this will be entirely restoring.

Shrimp Stuffed Avocados
Serves 2

2 ripe avocados, sliced in half
1 lb shrimp, shells taken off and chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons red onion, minced
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

Heat both a grill pan (or real grill) and cast iron skillet to medium-high heat.  When the grill pan is hot, place the avocado halves open side down on the pan- press down and let grill for about 5 minutes, checking intermittently.  When the avocados are getting warm and have distinct grill lines, remove from heat.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic and red onion in a bit of olive oil in the cast iron skillet.  When they become fragrant, add in the shrimp and cherry tomatoes.  Saute until the shrimp just turn pink, then remove from heat and place in the divot of the avocados, allowing shrimp to spill over onto the plate as well.  Squeeze a generous amount of lime juice and sprinkle salt over top.  Serve warm with a side salad or veggie!

The appetizer version:
Shrimp and Avocado Appetizer
Serves 4 in appetizer portions

1/2 lb shrimp, shells off and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Juice of 1 lime

Slice an avocado into long, slender pieces and place onto a large serving plate.  Squeeze lime juice onto the slices.  Evenly distribute the cherry tomatoes over the avocado.  Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat, and in 1 tablespoon olive oil, saute the shrimp pieces.  Once the shrimp turn pink, remove the skillet from heat and allow shrimp to cool for a few minutes before adding to the top of the avocado-tomato mixture.  Squeeze the rest of the lime juice over the whole thing and refrigerate until you serve.  Great eaten with tortilla chips!

People all over the world!  Join hands! Start a love train, LOVE TRAIN!

I'm a little excited over here.  Something amazing happened in my kitchen today.  It's called Mexican Chococado Pudding.  I know that title is confusing and worrisome to most of you, but stay with me.  Let's all raise our hands if you love: avocado {hand up!}, sugarless desserts {hand up! also skeptical look because what creepy seven syllable sweetener replaced the sugar...}, spicy-ness {Louisiana girl hand waving up in the wind!}, and CHOCOLATE {all appendages in the ayer, ayer!}.

As some of you know, I had to give up sugar a few weeks ago {19 days ago, but it's whatevs}.  It's for class and lasts three months, blah blah blah {how annoying is it when people go into vivid detail about what they can and cannot eat and how it's affecting every part of their body.  ew.}.  Basically, I have not eaten chocolate for 19 DAYS.  Swoon.  It's crazy ridiculous.  However, I gave up refined white sugar and crazy unnatural sweeteners {what up, dextose/phenylalanine/aspartame/splenda/equal/crazycraz they are in EVERYTHING}, but that list does not include: honey, agave, and dates.  All of those are natural.  As in came from a plant or bee or something.  {Please don't ask me to rationalize these rules, they just are.}

And this recipe lets me EAT CHOCOLATE without sugar!!  {Insert me dancing with a spoon}  But I needed more.  Have you ever had Mexican hot chocolate?  It's all smooth and chocolatey until it kicks you in the throat with cayenne?  I love that stuff.  So naturally, I added in some cinnamon and cayenne, which you can leave out if you're not into that spicy hot throat dance.

But wait.  I haven't explained the weirdo part of this.  The avocado.  Please don't leave just yet.  For the most part, you cannot taste avocado-ness, but if you have a serious avocado aversion, I'm sure you'll be just like Mr. S&S with mushrooms and claim that you can taste unfathomably tiny hints of them in everything.  So I'm not making any crazy promises to you, anti-avocadoers.  Except that you might starve in my house since I cover everything with avocado and lime.

Here come the outrageous claims for everyone else who is cool with avocado: it's gluten free! dairy free! sugar free! good for your heart! makes your hair grow long and shiny! gives you more friends! {ok, I made the last two up}.  But couldn't you see serving this to your girlfriends {maybe while calling Tierra all the synonyms of crazy while watching the Bachelor} and then smugly telling them how wonderful and healthy it is for you?

 And aren't we celebrating Chocoholics day, I mean Valentine's Day, later in the week?  Perfect.

Mexican Chococado Pudding
Serves 2, is easily multiplied (Inspired by How Sweet It Is and Forgiving Martha

1 ripe avocado, sliced open, seed removed
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
3 oz (just under 1/4 cup) agave nectar
1/4 cup almond milk (you can use regular, it just won't be dairy-free, duh)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 shakes cayenne powder (measurement-wise that is probably 1/32 a teaspoon.  be careful with it)

Scoop the insides out of the avocado.  Decide which type of blending equipment you want to use (blender, food processor, immersion blender, etc, all work) and combine all of the ingredients in the appropriate receptacle.  Blend away until smooth.  Eat immediately or place in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Sometimes all you need is just a little comfort food...

And nothing says comfort to me like pasta.  But why is it that I always forget about making pasta with meatballs?  I must make pasta with regular sauce four times a month, but meatballs about twice a year.  They are almost as simple as regular sauce, but infinitely more fun to eat.

These meatballs are extra special because my Wyoming brother-in-law hunted and killed an elk, then shared the spoils with us.  So these are elk sausage meatballs!  But don't worry, I've taken into account that you all don't have awesome elk-slaying brothers-in-law and adjusted the meat in this recipe.  And the secret ingredient in this recipe: CHEESE. bahaha!

Not the fancy asiago that the Barefoot Contessa's recipe calls for {she uses the most expensive ingredients.  Geez, her food is great, but I am not about to spend $20 on truffle butter just because she tells me to} but rather parmesan {and maybe a little monterey jack I had leftover}.

I always tear up some spinach leaves and cook them into the marinara sauce as well, you know, just to make the whole thing healthy.

Is anyone doing anything fun this weekend?  I think I'm going to talk Mr. S&S into taking me to see Silver Linings Playbook at some point, and we probably need to give the pup an outing.  He's been looking at us rather longingly lately.  Also, I purchased a big bag of blood oranges at Trader Joe's, so they'll need to be turned into something fantastic.

But you should definitely add these meatballs to your weekend agenda.  They freeze very nicely, too.

Pasta with Meatballs
Serves 3-4, inspired by the Barefoot Contessa's Spicy Turkey Meatballs

1 pound of pasta (I vastly prefer short noodles, so no spaghetti here, but follow your heart)
1 pound of ground turkey
1 pound of italian sausage
1 cup breadcrumbs or panko, or a combo
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
1 28 oz can of good quality* crushed tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed.
2 handfuls of spinach
3 shakes (about 1/8 teaspoon) ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Measure out breadcrumbs and pour milk into them.  Then add breadcrumb/milk mixture to the turkey and sausage.  Add in cheese, red pepper, oregano and mix well.  Finally, add olive oil and eggs and mix with your hands until everything is evenly combined.  Form into 2 inch round meatballs and place onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, saute the garlic in a little bit of olive oil until it becomes fragrant.  Add the crushed tomatoes and spinach.  When the meatballs are finished, add 8 or so to the sauce and let simmer while you cook the pasta.  Finish the sauce with the few shakes of nutmeg and serve with parmesan on top.

*This is not the time to skimp: the better quality tomatoes, the better the sauce will taste.  However, if your sauce has a little acidity or metallic taste from the can, add in a few tablespoons heavy cream (or 1 tablespoon melted butter mixed with 2 tablespoons milk) to take away that bite.

Isn't it terrible when something so tasty refuses to be photographed?  Maybe this pork is shy.  Or maybe it's because I slathered it in a salsa verde marinade so it was green tinged.  Either way, I'm only showing you two of the less awful pictures because frankly, I don't want you to lose your appetite!

This is the fabulous salsa verde.  It's light, fresh, and spicy all in one.  It also serves as a fabulous marinade for this pork tenderloin, which is pretty much the only cut of pork I enjoy.  Except bacon.  Whoa, definitely except bacon.  {Mr. S&S likes to spread the rumor that bacon is my favorite food.  Not actually true, but a crispy piece of good quality bacon is transformative}

Ok, here's the ugly pork...

Green tinged!  Yikes.  But trust me, over some grits {um, white polenta for you non-Southerners} {also, why do non-Southerners always ask, "hmm, what are grits made out of?" with a grimace, like we are tricking them into eating ground up baby bones or something?!} and sauteed peppers and onions, this pork is fabulous.  It also uses the cast iron skillet, which is always a win.

Major apologies for the un-photogenicness {that's a word now} of this dish.  It is much tastier looking {and tasting} in person.  So hop too, groceries everywhere are putting pork tenderloin on sale!  And make me proud non-Southerners: eat your grits.

Salsa Verde Pork Tenderloin
Serves 4

2.5 pounds of pork tenderloin (usually comes in multiple pieces)
1/2 white onion
1/2 jalapeno (or just 1 small one)
juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
4 cups grits, cooked {use milk!!}
3 peppers, sliced into strips
1 onion (or 1.5 to use up that other half), also sliced into strips

Preheat the oven to 425.  Whirl the onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, and honey in a food processor (or blender) until it's all mixed.  Put 2 tablespoons of the mixture with the pork to marinade.  When the oven is hot, place the pork in a cast iron skillet (or other heavy ovenproof pot), and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat.  While it is cooking, prepare your grits and saute the onions and peppers.  They can cook in a little oil on a medium-low heat for the full 25 minutes.  When the pork is finished, it can be slightly pink inside (the USDA says so).  Place onions and peppers over the grits, pork over the veggies, and salsa verde on top!

I hope you all are having a lovely week so far.  Personally, I've just returned home from a crazy long staff meeting, which was informative, but draining.  And at times like these, I just need a little internet pick me up {along with a lot of Moose snuggles.  Don't worry, that's happening} So I thought I'd share what's making me smile.

Welcome Home
This video is possibly the greatest thing that has ever happened in an airport.  Also, it fulfills my fantasy of life becoming a musical.  {Would you ever do a flash mob?  I love the idea, but it also terrifies me!}

Kid President
He is absurdly cute.  For realsies.  I want to lure him to my house with cupcakes and make him giggle until we both pass out.  {wow, that got super creepy} I'm probably late to the party on this one, but he makes me laugh out loud.  Especially this one about Diabetes vs Diabeetus.  {I'm assuming you've already seen his pep talk}

This book...

In which there is this...

Real dogs.  Too funny.

Online {fake} shopping.  Sometimes all it takes it pretend-picking out lots of items.  I'm {fake} buying these and this {for my other life in which I go out a lot} and on the hunt for the perfect pair of ankle boots.   

Watching the Bachelor-bowl.  I've decided that ABC is playing an internal game to see if they can get more ratings than the Super Bowl by convincing us {crazies} to watch the Bachelor TWO nights in a row for TWO hours each.  I wish I could stop, but I can't.  I need resolution in the form of Tierra {what is that name?} being brought to justice {which in line with this season would mean her faking an accident that no one pays attention to, or drinking goats milk, either one}.  

What do you do to distract/ amuse/ make yourself smile or feel better?  {Is it the Bachelor?} I'd love to know :)

Ready for your close-up?

Hey there, Pad Thai.  I know, it's ludicrous to even be discussing more food after the overwhelming undertaking that is Super Bowl Sunday pot lucks.  I am still tasting buffalo chicken dip {which I'm pretty ok with} and feeling a tad bloated from over-indulgence.

By the way, how was your Super Bowl?  After losing power {thanks teenage texter for knocking down THREE utility poles next to our house}, I couldn't make a new batch of mac & cheese cupcakes {but I'm SO honored by all of you that told me you made them!!}, so we showed up {ridiculously} early to our {wonderful} friends' house for the party.  Then of course, I watched 2 seconds of the game, the entirety of Beyonce {loved it.  come on, people, she was paid to dance}, shrugged about the power outage {used to live in Louisiana, those are very normal}, then fell asleep once things got good {back at our home, don't worry}.

But back to the fact that we still have to eat dinner tonight.  Hopefully, you are having a light salad and thinking healthy thoughts.  Because I'm not, and heaven knows someone needs to.

But pad thai.  Yes.  Ok, confession: I can never bring myself to order anything else on the menu at Thai restaurants.  It's too good.  And this is me: the woman who gets pouty when Mr. S&S orders the same thing as me because then I don't get to try two things.  Pad thai is the exception.

However, making pad thai at home is an undertaking.  To make the real stuff you need ingredients like tamarind and fish business- things I am not about to buy for one meal and then resent the space it takes up in my home.  No thanks.  That is where this recipe comes in.  It uses all things I already have in the pantry!

Also, it does not include sprouts.  Brussels sprouts are my friend, bean sprouts make me gag.  Blech.  Add them if you want to, but don't bring any over here.

Poor Woman's Pad Thai
Serves 3 

2 large chicken breasts, cut into bit sized chunks
1 pound/package medium size egg noodles
1 large carrot, shredded into peels
2 cups spinach

For the sauce:
1/3-1/2 cup soy sauce (start with 1/3, test if you want more)
1 tablespoon srirachi
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons peanut butter (I use crunchy, because I live on the edge)
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional, if you don't already have it, don't worry)

Topping Ideas:
Chopped peanuts or cashews
More srirachi
Big squirt of lime juice
Cilantro leaves

Mix the sauce ingredients together.  Pour 2 tablespoons of the mixture over the chopped chicken, then cook chicken in a large skillet over medium-high heat (takes about 6-8 minutes).  Meanwhile, boil the noodles (aim to have the noodles and chicken finish cooking about the same time).  When noodles and chicken are cooked, pour the noodles into the large skillet.  Add the carrots and spinach, then reduce the heat and stir the sauce into the whole mixture.  If you think the noodles are under-coated with sauce, add another spoonful of peanut butter and a tablespoon of soy sauce.  Make sure to stir well and serve hot with toppings!

Now, anyone want to come over here and make us dinner?  Super Bowl Monday should just be for sleeping...


I don't even know how to begin about these.  They make me so irrationally happy.  Photographing them was a journey of cute deliciousness.  Honestly, I was trying to come up with an interesting, fun Superbowl recipe.  Something a little more substantial than the world's most awesome salsa, but not so difficult that the ingredient list or amount of steps would be prohibitive.  And what happened far exceeded my expectations, both in flavor and in adorable-ness.

Now, I know the Superbowl is not about cute {that's why we have the puppybowl}, but these mac & cheese cupcakes just make me smile.  That's why I am hopinghopinghoping that you haven't already picked out your contribution to a Superbowl party.  Because these need to be made.  And even though so many things conspired against me with this recipe {forgot to buy macaroni until I was in the grocery store parking lot, cut my finger on the crazy-sharp food processor slicer blade, made infuriating mess of cheese everywhere while tending to finger} I would still do it all over again for these fabulous, cheesy treats.

Ok, see those cupcake liners in that picture?  Disregard them.  I tried with and without the liners, and liners just pulled mac & cheese off and made the cupcakes very difficult {and disastrously messy} to eat.  If you allow the cupcakes to sit in the pan for 5-10 minutes after pulling them out of the oven, they will hold their delightful cupcake shape just fine.

{Sorry to the woefully under-filled cupcake up there.  I was down a finger.} Also, please don't be frightened by the jalapeno ring on top.  It's mostly for color, but also to indicate the bitsy of cayenne that is mixed in.  There's just a hint of kick, but the predominant flavor is definitely cheese.  And no butter!  It's practically health food.

Just make these.  The Superbowl needs them.

Mac & Cheese Cupcakes
Makes 18 cupcakes

12oz cooked elbow macaroni (I cooked 1lb and am using the rest for pasta salad lata)
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 tablespoons flour
A pinch of both salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan, for sprinkling on top
1 jalapeno, sliced into thin rings

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a muffin tin with pam.  Place cottage cheese, sour cream, cayenne, flour, and s&p into a large bowl and whisk vigorously.  You're looking to whisk out the cottage cheese lumps so that the mixture is mostly creamy.  Mix in the cooked macaroni, and then stir in the cheddar and monterey jack cheeses.  Combine until all the macaroni is coated.

Scoop the mixture into the muffin tin, filling just up to the top.  The sprinkle parmesan on each cupcake and top with a jalapeno ring.  Bake for 25 minutes until the parmesan begins to brown.  Then pull out of the oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes until you remove them.

They also taste great at room temperature.  Just in case you were wondering.

Did I mention I'm lactose intolerant?  Let's just all continue to live in denial about that, mmk?

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